19 May 2015

Fiji government criticised for royalty payment fiasco

3:51 pm on 19 May 2015

A Fiji opposition MP says problems associated with royalty payments to landowners could have been avoided if they had been consulted properly from the outset.

The SODELPA MP Mosese Bulitavu presented a petition to parliament last week, with nearly 300 signatures, calling on the Government to hand over royalties to landowners at the Nawailevu bauxite mine.

The Chinese company Aurum Exploration Limited has nearly completed mining at the site which has produced almost 1 million tonnes of bauxite.

The Lands and Mineral Resources Minister Mereseini Vuniwaqa has said royalty payments are being held in a trust while a formula for fairly allocating the funds is determined.

But Mr Bulitavu says the mine was opened in 2011 and it should have been sorted out a long time ago.

"We're trying to correct what has been done and if consultation was met in the first place and if Government was true to its dealings this situation should not have arisen. But as we now arrive to this and there are breaches everywhere, Government has to find a remedy now to solve those issues."